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Jessica Biel says she supports vaccines – that's exactly what anti-vaxxers say

Jessica Biel is a celebrity perhaps best known for her marriage to Justin Timberlake. But "Sinner" star hit the headlines last week after meeting with California lawmakers to pressure California's SB276, pending legislation to tighten the medical exemption process for vaccinations. The purpose of the bill is to prevent fraudulent exemptions, especially as the United States is experiencing a serious measles epidemic. Biel was accompanied by famed anti-vaccination activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer, whose family recently publicly called his dangerous plea, which included comparing vaccines to the Holocaust.

Kennedy first drew attention to Biel's visit by posting photos of both on her Instagram page. Inevitably, the media coverage – and with it the aftershocks – followed Biel's visit. And just as inevitably, Biel's answer, via her own Instagram page, said that despite appearances, she was "not against vaccinations". Instead, the actress said she supported both vaccinations and "families with the right to make informed medical decisions for their children." . "

The actress said she supported both vaccinations and "families with the right to make informed medical decisions for their children". I do not buy it.

I do not buy it.

In fact, "I'm not anti-vaccine" is the fallacy claim of any anti-vaccine activist. Jenny McCarthy, for example, says the movement she's helping to lead is "… not an anti-vaccine movement. We are a safe vaccine program. She even wrote an editorial in 2014 stating that she was "pro-vaccine" and that she had "never told anyone not to vaccinate".

Yes, this Jenny McCarthy.

Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who had been stripped of his license for "elaborate fraud" in his 1998 study purporting to link MMR vaccination to the development of autism, had tried to argue in 2001 that another of his papers was "… -vaccin. This is the safest way to deliver these vaccines to children. At a recent rally in New York, the site of the largest measles outbreak in the country, Wakefield continued to claim that the RRO vaccine causes autism, that the CDC is involved in a plot to induce misinformation about vaccines, saying that measles, mumps and rubella are harmless and that it is the vaccinated and not the unvaccinated who spread measles.

Dr. Paul Thomas, Oregon physician and co-author of "The Vaccine-Friendly Plan," says his book is not anti-vaccine: "This is not a book anti -vaccine. This is not a pro-vaccine book. It is a book for children and children in good health. He describes himself as "informed consent". Still, the book contains common anti-vaccine arguments, and a tetanus patient recently contracted by Thomas was hospitalized for eight weeks. cost over $ 800,000.

Kennedy himself used a similar tactic. In response to an editorial from several family members, nothing told him that his anti-vaccine activities were at odds with the Kennedy family's history of significant support for vaccines, RFK Jr. responded that he wanted simply "safe vaccines and rigorous safety testing".

These are just a few examples of prominent lawyers. I could connect with hundreds of ordinary individuals and groups who are trying in the same way to turn their anti-vaccine rhetoric into something more acceptable to the general public. This means that instead of anti-vaccine, they use phrases such as "pro-medical freedom", "pro-vaccine choice", "pro-informed consent", "pro-vaccine safety" or qualify as "anti-forced vaccination". , "Anti-vaccine mandate" and "aware of vaccine risk".

But whatever combination of words is used, almost all of these advocates claim that vaccines are somehow dangerous. The fact that such dangers are not supported by rigorous scientific research is of little concern.

And Biel, despite her protests, follows the same game book. She explains that her plea comes from a friend whose child would apparently need a medical exemption to be vaccinated. Medical exemptions should be rare, but their popularity has recently exploded in California as unscrupulous doctors sign dozens of exemptions, sometimes for money. If this exemption is legitimate, the friend of Biels should be even more invested in maintaining collective immunity – a sufficiently high level of immunity in the population to prevent the spread of infections – to protect the child. A member of the legislative staff who attended meetings with Biel and Kennedy said that they both spent time "talking about their personal belief that vaccines are both dangerous and ineffective." This does not look like someone who is simply trying to make sure that the legitimate exemption of a friend is protected.

Because not all medical exemptions are legitimate. The staff member also stated that he had discussed "… a gene associated with the injuries caused by a vaccine, and when I looked for it, I could only find it on these anti-vax sites." The staff member then confirmed that it was a reference to variants of the MTHFR gene. . Although variants of this gene are extremely common and generally safe, anti-vaccine sites have attached to it as a means to obtain fraudulent medical exemptions from vaccination – the only type of exemption recognized in California. that SB276 would like more carefully. police.

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